Embraer has completed the required test campaign for certification of the C-390 Millennium multi-role tanker/transport aircraft in the fire-fighting role. The manufacturer is awaiting approval from the Industrial Fostering and Coordination Institute (IFI)—Brazil’s military certification authority. Once the certification has been issued, the capability will be available to C/KC-390 operators.
For the fire-fighting role, the C-390 employs the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) II, which can drop up to 2,985 U.S. gallons (11,300 liters) of plain or retardant-treated water. Developed by Aero Union as an improvement on the original system, MAFFS II is a five-tank, roll-on/roll-off system that can be installed in the C-390’s cargo hold using its own trailer. The water is discharged through a door-mounted nozzle that is fitted in the port aft fuselage paratroop doorway. The system is self-contained and requires only a connection to the aircraft’s power supply for operation. MAFFS II is in widespread use, notably with the C-130s of the U.S. Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard.
The trial flights were conducted from Embraer’s principal military test location at Gavião Peixoto in the state of São Paulo. A number of water drops were conducted that validated the integration with the aircraft, and also the aircraft’s handling and maneuverability while operating at low speeds and altitudes.
Meanwhile, Embraer is continuing test flying from Gavião Peixoto of the first KC-390 for the Portuguese air force—Força Aérea Portuguesa (FAP). Portugal became the first export customer for the C/KC-390 in July 2019, ordering five aircraft, associated services and support, and a flight simulator.
Following tests in Brazil to meet IFI, ANAC (Brazil’s civil aviation authority), and Portuguese requirements, the aircraft will be ferried to Embraer’s Portuguese subsidiary—OGMA at Alverca—for installation of NATO-specific equipment. The equipment will then be certified by Portugal’s Autoridade Aeronáutica Nacional (AAN) with the first delivery to the FAP scheduled for next year.